Toyota Kluger VS Mitsubishi Outlander
- Quiet and refined
- GX is well-specified
- GXL and Grande are pricey for not much benefit
- Deeply ordinary entertainment system
- Instantly familiar motoring
- Crucial tech update adds phone integration
- Mid-spec and up gets impressive safety kit
- Petrol engines lack punch
- Conventional automatic only available with diesel engine
- Design feels a little plasticky for our tastes
Like the statues of Easter Island, the Toyota Kluger casts a huge shadow over the Australian motoring landscape. It's a strong seller for Toyota, having been around for ages and is one of three large SUVs in Toyota's armory next to the evergreen Prado and disappointing Fortuner.
Competition, of course, is growing ever more fierce. Hyundai is about to drop a new Santa Fe, the Kia Sorento gets better every year and more manufacturers are joining the party. Most notably, Mazda's CX-9 is also loaded with safety gear and a potent 2.5-litre turbo engine.
The intensity of the battle became apparent in my esteemed colleague Matt Campbell's recent comparison test where the Kluger came last behind the Kia Sorento and Mazda CX-9, thanks largely to Toyota's reluctance to fit the same advanced safety features.
They heard Matt (that's what he reckons, anyway) and recently added some important safety tech to the 2018 Kluger. Let's have a look to see if it's enough.
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
Andrew Chesterton road tests and reviews the new Mitsubishi Outlander with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
In the booming and bustling world of mid-size SUVs, five years can be an eternity. But that's how long it's been since an all-new, or even majorly updated Mitsubishi Outlander arrived on our shores. Sure, there have been some style updates along the way, but it's been the same basic package since way back in 2012.
And age is beginning to hurt the Outlander, with Mitsubishi's go-to SUV finishing in sixth position in the 2016 sales race, miles behind the segment leaders (Mazda's CX-5 and Hyundai's Tucson), and neck-and-neck with Subaru's Forester.
So, the entire Outlander range has undergone a shake-up for 2017, with Mitsubishi adding technology and safety kit across the line-up. Sadly, it's also increased the costs, with list pricing climbing anywhere from $10 to a little over $1000.
So have the changes helped or hindered the Mitsubishi Outlander?
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
The 2018 Kluger is still a very solid car, with tons of room for you and your things. And your family and their things. It remains way out in front (although the new Santa Fe is lurking menacingly) and the boost in safety gear will help ensure it stays there.
The pick of the range is still the GX which is now a much stronger proposition with the extra safety features. There's little of real interest in the higher models, you can't get better headlights (a curious state of affairs) or a better stereo, so it's difficult to understand the appeal.
The Kluger will serve you and your family well in a solid and unspectacular way. Given most of us like that in our cars, it's easy to see why it's a hit.
Does the Kluger's new safety focus do enough to lure you away from the competition? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
It might be a little old-school in places, but the injection of fresh technology and key safety equipment adds plenty of value to the Outlander range.
Has Mitsubishi done enough to the Outlander to tempt you away from a rival? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
The Kluger is handsome in a squared-off, what-are-you-looking-at kind of way. That big bluff front-end makes the car look rather bigger than it is, which is quite an achievement because it's pushing two metres wide and 1.73m tall. It's not the longest in its class, though, coming in at 4.89m.
Despite it hailing from the US, it's not too blinged-up, but neither is it CX-9 pretty. Some might find the grille reminiscent of a krill-hoovering whale or Bane from Batman, but it's certainly distinctive.
The cabin is like the exterior - nothing flash, but what you see is what you get. Materials are mostly pretty good and it leans towards thoughtful and practical rather than sexy. Normally I'd say, "just like me", but I'm none of these things.
The interior dimensions of the big bruiser match its eclipse-causing exterior. No matter your size - well, within reason - you'll find plenty of space in the first or second rows. The third row features decent space for kids and very patient adults for short trips.
The Mitsubishi Outlander's exterior design might not push the envelope, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Instead, it's a simple, un-fussy body design with a bold and aggressive grille and 18-inch alloy wheels even from the entry level model.
It's diminutive for a potential seven seater, too, with the Outlander's dimensions measuring a sprightly 4695mm in length and 1810mm in width - shorter and thinner than other full-time seven seaters.
Inside, every interior option is clean and simple, and all feature the same 7.0-inch touchscreen taking centre stage in the middle of the dash. Deeper pockets will earn you leather wrapped seats and more technology options, but the basic elements remain the same: safe, uncluttered and easy to understand.
The big question people ask me about the Kluger is "How many seats are in there?" - every Kluger packs seven seats, with two flip-up seats in the boot. Boot space dimensions are obviously dictated by whether they're up or down. With the seats down, you've got a decent 529 litres, leaving you with good luggage capacity and a cargo cover to keep it all hidden away. Lift the seats with the straps and you've got just 195 litres, about the same as a small hatchback.
Put the second and third rows down and Toyota says you'll have 1117 litres, but I reckon that's conservative.
The cabin is well-planned for families. Every row features cupholders - front and middle rows have a pair each, while those banished to the third row score two each, a total of eight across the car.
Back in the front row, the tectonic split in the dashboard is lined with a soft rubbery material, making it a great place to sling phones, keys and odds and ends. Between the seats is a massive 24-litre storage bin that a small grandparent could ride in. On second thoughts, that's probably not a great idea.
Your boot space and luggage capacity depend heavily on whether you've got five or seven seats, and on how many passengers you're carrying.
Boot space is pegged at 477 litres in five-seat models, though that number climbs to 1608 litres with the 60/40 rear seat folded flat.
The exterior dimensions don't change when you opt for a seven seat model, so cargo space is restricted to 128 litres. But as you can see in our interior photos the third row is split 50/50, so you can drop some or all of the seats to increase your luggage space to a maximum 1608 litres.
Price and features
There are three models in the Kluger range and how much you pay will vary depending on your thirst for standard features. Our price list features RRP prices and are a guide only - your dealer might be convinced to reduce the cost.
The GX opens with the lowest price - $44,500 for the 2WD and $48,500 for the 4WD. Specs include six-speaker stereo, 18-inch alloys wheels (no 17-inch alloy wheels anymore), front and rear air conditioning, Bluetooth, forward and reverse camera, active cruise control, rear parking sensors, remote central locking, auto headlights, power windows and mirrors and a full-size spare wheel.
The GXL adds an lazy 10 grand in comparison to the GX - $54,950 (2WD) and $58,950 (AWD). The GXL adds a GPS navigation system, DAB digital radio, rear-cross traffic alert, keyless entry and start, partial leather seats, and electric tailgate with separate glass hatch.
The Grande - again, for a further 10 grand plus, is available for $65,646 (2WD) or $69,617 (AWD). You'll get the same satellite navigation as the GXL, 19-inch rims, electric sunroof, rear-seat entertainment system with 9.0-inch screen and Blu-Ray and heated and ventilated front seats.
The entertainment system is powered by a 6.1-inch touch screen in the GX and 8.0-inch in the other models, which also include satellite navigation. The software package is distinctly 2006, painfully so in the GX. The system includes AM/FM radio, CD player and USB. There's no DVD option, however.
Colours include 'Crystal Pearl' (white), silver, 'Rustic Brown' (looks better than it sounds), 'Predawn Grey', 'Rainforest Green', 'Merlot Red' (dahling), 'Deep Red', 'Cosmos Blue' and 'Eclipse Black'. All but the black are $550 extras, which is not modest but not extortionate either.
Toyota's accessories list is well-stocked, with items like nudge bar (which is remarkably well integrated), side steps, cargo barrier, roof racks (no roof rails, though) and various plastic shields, driving lights, floor mats, towbar, parking aids and blind spot monitor.
You're out of luck if you want a Toyota-branded seat belt extender or bull bar.
For comparison, the cheapest CX-9 is $700 less (than the GX), but with a higher spec level, while the fully-loaded Azami is also around $800 cheaper (than the Grande) but - again - better-equipped.
The Korean rivals, while older and slightly smaller, are significant cheaper - the Kia Sorento is priced from $42,990 to $46,990 while the Santa Fe starts at $40,990 and finishes at $57,090 (albeit not a petrol V6). All these cars are well-equipped, with more modern features and tech.
Deciphering the Mitsubishi Outlander model range is a little like unravelling The Da Vinci Code, with the engines, transmissions, even how many seats, changing across a single trim level.
The price range kicks off with the entry-level LS, which is offered in front-wheel drive (FWD), with five seats and a five-speed manual ($28,750). Opting for the continuously variable transmission (CVT) however, earns you two bonus seats, for seven in total ($30,500). Finally, the LS is also available with all-wheel drive (AWD), seven seats, a CVT and a bigger engine ($33,500).
Standard fare across the LS trim level includes an Apple Car Play/Android Auto-equipped 7.0-inch touchscreen multimedia unit that will pair with your iPhone, and also features a CD player and DAB digital radio. It can be controlled via the steering wheel buttons. The Bluetooth-equipped sound system is matched with six speakers.
You'll also find 18-inch alloys, cloth seats, dual-zone climate control (ac), a 12-volt charge point in the boot and a shark-fin antenna. You can also expect cruise control, power windows and keyless entry. Opt for the automatic version, however, and you'll add electric exterior mirrors, while choosing the AWD model adds an electric parking brake.
The Outlander range then steps up to the LS Safety Pack, available with a CVT only. The LS Safety Pack is available with five seats ($32,000), or you can opt for a bigger petrol engine and AWD (upping the cost to $35,000), or you can add two seats for seven in total ($36,000). Finally, the LS Safety Pack can be equipped with a diesel engine and a conventional torque converter six-speed automatic, along with seven seats ($39,500).
Standard fare across the LS Safety Pack line-up includes the same features as the LS, but adds forward collision warning with AEB, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control and auto high beams. You'll also add automatic windscreen wipers and headlights and an electrochromatic rearview mirror.
By comparison, the Outlander range tops out with the seven seat Exceed model, available in a CVT-equipped petrol version ($44,000) or a diesel model paired with a conventional automatic transmission ($47,500). Standard fare includes a sunroof, leather seats, push-button start and Mitsubishi's clever parking system that will slam on the brakes if it thinks you're going to have an accident while parking.
All models arrive with front and rear cup holders and room in the doors for bottles. Weirdly, there's no GPS sat nav anywhere in the line-up, but that's easily fixed using your phone's map system that will display on the screen.
There are seven colours on the Outlander's palette, including White, Starlight Pearl (a kind of beige) Cool Silver Metallic, Titanium Metallic (a grey), Black Pearl, Ironbark Metallic (brown) and Red. There's no blue, orange or green available.
The above are Mitsubishi's retail prices (or RRP), but you can and should haggle at multiple dealers to see how much wriggle room they can offer on the official price list.
Engine & trans
Across the range, Kluger buyers are treated to the same engine specifications - a 3.5-litre V6 petrol. The big unit devlops 218kW/350Nm to help move the two-tonner.
As to whether the V6 features a timing belt or chain, it's the latter. The engine uses standard (OW-30) oil and 0-100km/h acceleration times are around nine seconds.
Towing capacity is the same for each model, coming in at 700kg for unbraked trailers and 2000kg braked. We haven't yet carried out a towing review.
In terms of engine specs, the entry level Outlander LS is offered with a 2.0-litre petrol engine paired with a five-speed manual transmission or CVT, with power fed to the front wheels. The engine produces 110kW (147 horsepower) at 6000rpm and 190Nm from 4200rpm.
Stepping up to an AWD model (a light-duties, no low-range 4WD) requires a bigger engine size, with Mitsubishi's 2.4-litre petrol unit producing 124kW (166 horsepower) at 6000rpm and 220Nm at 4200rpm. The bigger engine will use a claimed/combined 7.2L/100km (expect that number to climb if you're heavy on the gas). Both petrol engines offer the same 1600kg towing capacity.
The sole diesel engine on offer is a 2.2-litre motor with output ratings of 110kW at 3500rpm and 360Nm from 1500rpm paired with a six-speed torque converter automatic. Fuel use is a claimed (combined cycle) 6.2L/100km, with towing specifications pegged at 2000kg - enough to shine in most towing reviews, but a long way off the 3500kg industry best. Diesel-equipped vehicles are 4-wheel drive only. There is no LPG model in the line-up, though the Outlander is also available in a yet to be updated hybrid model.
The Outlander range requires a 0W-20 oil type and oil capacity is pegged at at between 3.9 and 4.5 litres. Gross vehicle weight ranges from 1985kg to 2280kg. For common issues, including diesel problems, turbo problems, timing belt or chain issues, as well as transmission problems, please see our Mitsubishi Outlander problems page.
For its engine size and overall weight, fuel economy is always going to be marginal and continues to be the Kluger's weak spot. For the front-wheel drive, Toyota claims 9.lL/100km on the combined cycle. The heavier 4x4 version recorded an official combined fuel consumption figure of 9.5L/100km.
These mileage figures would be a stretch - in a week of gentle suburban running around in a GX AWD, we copped a figure of 13.7L/100km.
The fuel tank capacity is a handy 72 litres, meaning a decent run between fills, especially when you're out on the open road.
Obviously, without a diesel engine, there are no diesel fuel consumption figures.
The Outlander's 2.0-litre petrol engine's fuel consumption is pegged at a claimed/combined 7.0L/100km with a manual transmission, and drops to 6.8L/100km with the CVT. It requires 91RON fuel and its fuel tank capacity is 63 litres.
Step up to the bigger 2.4-litre petrol engine and your fuel economy numbers climb, too, with the official claim at 7.2L/100km, with that engine paired exclusively with the CVT. It will also sip 91RON fuel and has a slightly smaller tank, at 60 litres.
The 2.2-litre diesel fuel consumption is an official 6.2L/100km, with that engine linked with a conventional six-speed torque converter automatic. It's packing a 60-litre tank.
You never really forget that the Kluger is a big unit. Ground clearance is a not-inconsiderable 200mm and the turning circle a fairly lazy 11.8 metres. People don't seem to mind that it feels big, and is one of the few in the segment that I feel like I'm climbing up into with my 183cm (six-foot) frame rather than stepping in.
From behind the wheel you can practically see the curvature of the Earth you sit so high. Fire up the near-silent V6 and you're struck by how incredibly smooth it is. Also smooth is the ride - the long travel suspension is probably exactly the same as it is for our American cousins vs, say, Hyundai's habit of setting up its cars for Australia.
Everything is soft and squidgy but in a reassuring way, even the warning beeps aren't too shrill or irritating. The steering is light and with the occasional moment of vagueness but again, it's all very predictable. The brakes, though a bit spongy at the top of the pedal, are more than up to the task of washing off speed in the unlikely event you've overcooked things.
The engine continues unchanged. There's enough horsepower to get you going and hold a decent clip, it will keep you out of trouble and do what Toyotas generally do - look after you. Performance is hardly the key point of the Kluger - it weighs in at a fairly unapologetic 2005kg in AWD form - but, as I say, there's ample power to keep you moving.
We're yet to perform an exhaustive off-road review, but our experience is that the Kluger has reasonable off road ability.
Whoever coined the phrase, 'You get what you pay for' could have been describing the Outlander range. If you're counting your pennies, then you'll find yourself behind the wheel of the manual LS, complete with spongy but forgiving five-speed gearbox, largely underwhelming 2.0-litre engine, offering adequate acceleration and a drive experience best described as no-frills.
There's nothing obviously wrong with the way the budget offerings drive, and the inclusion of Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, accessed via a large touchscreen, adds plenty of entertainment options to while away long drives. But there's little in the way of engagement or excitement, a feeling not helped by the steering which feels disconnected from the action going on beneath it.
The bigger petrol engine improves matters, but the pick of the bunch is the top-tier diesel engine which lives exclusively in the most expensive model, the seven seat Exceed ($47,500). The extra torque offers more accessible performance, helping push the Outlander through traffic and up to speed noticeably quicker than the petrol models. You still won't be winning any 0-100km/h sprints, but it feels quicker than its siblings - helped by the sharp-shifting six-speed automatic, instead of the CVT in the cheaper models.
But regardless of the model, the ride (delivered by MacPherson front, multi-link rear suspension) is tuned for comfort, the seats are wide and comfortable, the vision is fine and it's easy to drive and park. In fact, it feels considerably smaller than other dedicated seven seaters. And that's because it is, with the CX-9 for example, stretching a little over 5.0m, compared to the Outlander's 4.7m.
Road noise is kept to a minimum, except the diesel engines aren't the most refined we've driven. The turning circle is an official 10.6 metres. With 190mm ground clearance, the AWD equipped vehicles offer some level of off-road ability and a decent wading depth, but don't expect the best off-road reviews from what is essentially a city-based SUV.
The Kluger arrives from the US with seven airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls and rear parking sensors.
The 2018 Kluger is really about the battery of new safety features in the lower models. Added to the GX and GXL are pre-collision warning, forward AEB, lane departure warning, active cruise and auto high beam. GXLs also pick up a blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert. As you can imagine, the Grande has the lot.
There are three top-tether anchors for the middle row as well as two ISOFIX points.
As before, the ANCAP safety rating stands at a maximum five stars, awarded in November 2016.
The entire Outlander range was awarded the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating when tested in 2014, owing to standard safety features including seven airbags (dual front, side and curtain airbags, as well as a driver's knee airbag), Hill Start Assist, a reversing camera and rear parking sensors.
Safety Pack models add AEB, active cruise control and lane departure warning, while Exceed models offer blind-spot monitoring, a surround-view parking monitor and Mitsubishi's 'Misacceleration Mitigation System', which will hit the brakes if it senses an impending accident while you're parking.
All Outlanders are equipped with two ISOFIX attachment points, one in each window seat in the back, so you can fit two baby seats.
Toyota's three year/100,000km warranty also comes with a fixed price servicing plan. It seems the Japanese company can get away with the short warranty because of the long-held reputation for reliability and few problems or faults.
I've certainly never heard complaints from Kluger owners, or Toyota owners generally for that matter. Having said that, Hyundai and Kia both smack Toyota out of the park for warranty length and in Hyundai's case, lifetime fixed price servicing.
Service costs are fixed via Toyota's 'Service Advantage' pricing. For the Kluger you'll pay $180 per service for the first 36 months or 60,000km. You'll have to visit the dealer every six months or 10,000km for the stamp in your owners manual, which is always good for resale value.
Few owners report any genuine issues, such as engine problems or tranmission problems.
All Outlanders are covered by Mitsubishi's five-year/100,000km warranty, and in terms of service costs, require a trip to the service centre every 12 months or 15,000kms. Each also arrives with four years complimentary roadside assistance and three years capped price servicing, with service and maintenance costs published on Mitsubishi's Australian website.
An owners manual and a full-size spare is included in the standard features list, and the Outlander range received a 2.5 out of five reliability rating from US based research company J.D. Power. The injection of fresh technology will likely assist with resale value, too.
For common faults, problems and issues, including reliability issues, please see our Mitsubishi Outlander problems page for owner feedback.